Despite the GOP establishment’s attempts to reclaim the party from the influence of the Tea Party, one leading Democratic advocacy group is kicking off the election year by making the case that the moderate wing of the Republican Party has been stained by a spillover of the Tea Party.
Americans United for Change is out with a new website and report, “Tea Stained,” that ranks 47 Republican members of Congress up for reelection in competitive races on the basis of how closely the member has voted with the Tea Party. The effort demonstrates that Democratic-aligned groups plan to link all Republicans– including moderates – to the Tea Party in the upcoming election.
“Republicans ran with the Tea Party in 2010. They didn't distance themselves from the Tea Party nominated their candidates in 2012. We'll see how much they want to embrace them in 2014,” Americans United for Change president Brad Woodhouse told “Top Line.”
Though Woodhouse said the Tea Party is “stronger than ever in the Republican House of Representatives,” he thinks the ultra-conservative movement is “very anti-government in ways that are not reflective of swing voters.”
“I think it is as unpopular as it's ever been out in the countryside with real voters and particularly with swing voters,” he said.
The “Tea Stained” rankings look specifically at votes that led to dismantling the president’s health care law and that led to the government shutdown -- Tea Party-led actions that Woodhouse believes many Republicans will be looking to hide from voters.
“As it sunk in to people how far to the right and extreme the Tea Party is, they've become less popular, and so you see … Republican members from swing districts who would come out and try to talk a reasonable game and then go to the floor and they'd stick their card in and vote … with the Tea Party,” he said.
While Woodhouse hopes the scorecard will be a “useful tool” for Democrats mounting challenges to the members it ranks, he also encouraged Democrats to craft their messaging around “increasing opportunity” as it relates to the economy.
“Some people just don't even believe they're ever going to be in the middle class, but what they want to believe is that they have a shot,” he said. “And I don't see on the Republican side, policy prescriptions that really increase opportunity for people to join the middle class when the major subject that they keep talking about is just cutting spending.”
To hear more of Woodhouse’s analysis of the upcoming midterm elections, and whether he thinks the Democratic Party has a chance of taking back the House of Representatives, check out this episode of “Top Line.”
ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Chris Carlson, and Mary Quinn contributed to this episode.